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Screentime in the Bathroom Is Bad for Hemorrhoids

If you’re like a lot of people, a trip to the bathroom is also a chance for some scrolling time on your cell phone. It seems harmless enough, but that screen time can lead to painful hemorrhoid problems.

The desire to find something to do while using the bathroom isn’t new. Cell phones are just the latest in a long line of distractions that include books, magazines and newspapers. What’s different is that almost everyone carries a cell phone, creating more opportunities for hemorrhoid flareups.

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Technically, everyone has hemorrhoids, which are essentially blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum. They can make life miserable, causing itching, pain and bleeding. And they’re one of the biggest reasons people visit colorectal specialists, with hemorrhoids getting blamed for most symptoms that happen in the anus.

Flareups are often treated with over-the-counter medications, lifestyle changes and painless therapies. In more severe instances, they may require surgery.

It’s not always clear why some people have issues with hemorrhoids while others don’t. It’s likely a combination of lifestyle and genetics, much in the same way that some people are more prone to something as simple as wrinkles or certain medical conditions.

The Toilet Connection

Problems can arise because of the sheer amount of time being spent on the toilet, while not actually using it for its intended purpose. You might sit down planning to read a few emails or watch a video. Before you know it, 20 or 30 minutes have slipped past. By that point, you’re just sitting there, essentially using the toilet as a chair.

The problem is the way your body responds to that position.

When you sit over an opening, the sphincter muscles relax, and blood fills the hemorrhoids naturally found in and around your anus. While you sit there surfing the web, your hemorrhoids are being stretched to their limits. Over time, hemorrhoids become less elastic and lose their ability to snap back the way they once did – making it easier for them to become enlarged and sometimes inflamed. This is the same reason it is not advisable sit on a doughnut-type pillow if you are having hemorrhoid pain.

Setting Limits

It’s not a great idea to use your phone while you are in the bathroom, but if you must do it, plan to get on and off the toilet within five to 10 minutes if possible.

If it’s taking you longer than that, it likely means one of two things:

  • You’re having difficulty passing your bowel movement, so you may need to see a doctor to figure out what’s going on. Among the things that could help: A stool softener or laxative, more fluids, exercise or diet changes.
  • You’re using the bathroom for some alone time. It’s an easy way to avoid being bugged by kids, family members, co-workers or friends. But if you really need that quiet time, just finish your bowel movement and then stand up and put the lid back down. Then you can sit down and use the toilet like a real chair.

And while hemorrhoidal flareups are the biggest threat, it’s worth mentioning hygiene. Using your phone while also using the toilet isn’t the cleanest thing to do. There are other problems that can come from wiping your bottom, putting your hands on your phone and then putting your phone to your face.

There is potential for infectious issues through the fecal-oral route. If you have loose stool or diarrhea, for example, you could transfer it back to yourself or someone else that handles your phone. People are urged to wash their hands after using the bathroom. But that advice is negated a bit if you handle your phone before washing your hands!

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